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Monday, July 28, 2008

Independance Days Challenge Update

Planted: My apple trees and a Mulberry tree. It's one of my favourite fruits and the tree I bought is already covered in fruit. Can't wait for it to ripen in spring. Maybe I'll get two rounds of fruit.

Harvest something: My cousins harvested all the remaining oranges on one of the trees, and I have been harvesting eggs from my new chickens!!!

Preserve something: Nothing again. It's just the wrong time of year. If I can get a box of cheap tomatoes (end of season) I might do some pasta sauce this weekend.

Store Something: Polenta.

Manage Reserves: Thinking I will buy some extras of staples, as the truckie's strike looks like it is going ahead.

Prepped: Put a deposit down on a self pollinating almond. I'll pick it up after it comes into leaf, so I know it's healthy. The nursery said they prefer to do this. If it doesn't look good they'll give me another. Also bought some asparagus crowns which I hope to plant later this week. Collecting Newspapers for laying under the pebbles in front courtyard, that needs to be finished this weekend as well and the remainder of green manure sown.

Worked on Local Food Systems: Went to Organic food co-op meeting. Went to TEAR fund conference this weekend. Looking at starting a group for Christians in my area who are interested in environmental issues and social justice with a couple I used to work with in Sydney and have moved to my area.

Reduced Waste: Reducing other people's waste. Handing out icecream containers for scraps left right and centre. The chooks love it and the leftovers go to the worms and the compost. The garden will love it too!

Cooked something new: Roast vegetable salad. I'll do it again soon and take photos! It was delicious.

Learned a new skill: Drilling holes in metal, clipping chicken wings

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


My girls have come. I have named them Milly, Molly and Mandy and can't tell them apart yet. They are Barnevelders and came from my good friends Eric and Clarissa from Permaculture Sydney West. They brought them to the grafting workshop at Harmony Farm, which I completely forgot to take photos of. (oops) One of them even laid an egg en route. My grandpa has given me some banding tags, so I think I'll have to resort to that until I know them better.

The girls are Barnevelders which is a Dutch breed which lays lovely brown eggs (supposed to be around 180 a year). One of them is double laced, the other two only single lacing, and they are gorgeous. They are not as tame as my last hens, but Frankie, the Isa Brown was hand reared so very tame. I'll work on them as the greens dwindle down taking food in and feeding them. They will come up to me if I stay in the coop for a while, but won't let me touch them much.

Chickens are a great (I think essential) part of a green home. They will pick over any meat and dairy scraps which are not compostible, and will convert kitchen scraps and garden waste into compost much quicker than my compost bin can. (although I still use a compost bin as well.) They process old and rotting fruit and produce wonderful fertiliser and eggs which are great to eat. I also use them as a chicken tractor, to clear a specific area after harvesting, and before planting the next crop.

The photo below is the chicken yard last Friday. I fixed it by putting the star picket at the right of the photo in the ground next to the broken side and then wiring the broken paling to the picket. It worked really well, Also made a loop to hold the gate shut. Very proud of my fixing. (Even my next door neighbour and his builder dad approved) He came over last night to ask if I had chooks, because two of them were in his yard. His cat wasn't sure what to make of them.

Note: In my experience cats are fine with chooks. The cats are generally not willing to risk being pecked and maintain a safe distance. Cats can actually be beneficial, I have heard of people installing a cattery around the chook yard to prevent dogs/foxes etc getting in. The chooks had flown into low tree braches to sleep (I think they only flew over the fence later in the afternoon to nest) and he picked them up and threw them back over. They were happily grazing this morning.

Today I bought anti chicken flying equipment. Basically a Trailer net. You can see the shelter and roost at the back (the chook yard continues around the side of the garage, it would really be wasted space otherwise) I think the chooks are getting onto the roof of the shelter and then going over the fence, so the trailer net will be attached to the gutter of the garage and the top of the fence to prevent them flying over the fence. Hopefully no more flying chickens

Monday, July 21, 2008

Independance Days update - for two weeks.

Planted: Green Manure, where the lawn used to be. Photos tomorrow maybe? Brocolli and silverbeet seedlings. Jerusalem artichokes, along back fence. May plant another batch somewhere else as I am finding it quite a dry spot.

Harvest something: Cherry tomatoes. It's the middle of winter, but in cleaning up the chook pen I found a bowlful of red cherry toms, going into salad tonight. I will also harvest some lettuce, coriander and parsley for the salad.

Preserve something: Nothing

Store Something: Chook feed!

Manage Reserves: Kitchen now sorted, and is much easier to access. I have a small amount of benchspace.

Prepped: Picked up chickens from a friend rather than the layer pullets. They are Barnevelders and are very pretty. Should lay every one to two days and I have 3 so that's more than enought for me and some to give away/barter. Had a day off Friday and fixed up chicken yard. The gate was broken. Made a temporary nesting box until I can get an old mower catcher. these are great for nesting boxes as they are dark and dry and have a handle on the top to pick them up with.

Worked on Local Food Systems: Went to a working bee day at Harmony Farm on the southern highlands. I think I'll try and go at least once a season. They have lots of fruit trees and I can learn a lot from them.

Reduced Waste: I got chickens. Now I can give them meat and dairy scraps instead of throwing out!

Cooked something new: Didn't cook anything new for me, but did cook with my two year old friend. She wore her special apron and helped me pour pre-prepared ingredients in and to mix and put everything into the container - result. Delicious apple crumble. However she didn't eat hardly any of it. I did though and so did her mum and dad. Cooking with kids is lots of fun, but you do need to pick the recipe and be prepared.

Learned a new skill: Grafting. At Harmony Farm yesterday we had a grafting workshop and I grafted 5 different apple varieties and am now praying for them to take. They say their apples graft the best so I started with them and maybe will try pears or something stonefruit next time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Surprise Visitors

Last Tuesday I had a call from an old friend from the church I worked for in Sydney.
He and his wife and daughter were in town and wanted to catch up. Unfortunately Jo couldn't make lunch, but Adrian and Ella did. It was my first time meeting Ella, and she is adorable

I think she is eyeing off my food in this photo. Thanks for the visit guys, it was the best surprise.

Once upon a moon

Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle
The cow tried to jump over the moon
but instead hit a star
fell back to earth quite hard
landing in a tree at Docklands

Friday, July 11, 2008


Guess where I went tonight!!!
Yep, you guessed it, guys and dolls. At the princess theatre in Melbourne. It was a great night. The cast was brilliant, lisa mcclune, marina prior, gary mcdonald, magda zobanski (so spelt that wrong) and Kenny (Don't remember his name, but he did the movie. Loved the music, the sets, the dancing. WOW.
I'm in Melbourne for a work conference, but had some time off this afternoon and also got to pop over to the Art Gallery. That was brilliant as well. I could have spent a day there and not seen it all, some amazing artworks.
Tomorrow is the last day of the conference and then I am going to stay with friends who live on the outskirts of Melbourne till Tuesday when I return to Nowra.
Catch you later...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sassafras hike and a bonfire

The other weekend I had a friend from Sydney come down and stay.
It was good to catch up with what's been going on there with friends and the Permaculture group I was involved with.

On the Friday evening we went to a Taize worship service I had heard of. It was lovely to meet with others from all different denominations and backgrounds. It's amazing how small the world is, meeting people from very different generations to me, with many mutual friends. It was a lovely reflective service, with a shared simple meal for the hour beforehand.

On Saturday Kristjan and I went out to Morton National Park for a day walk. We took the Braidwood Road from Nowra and entered the park via Sassafras. There is no sign there, just a gate, and you drive through some private property before reaching the entrance to the park. About 500m in to the walk there was a lovely campground with amenities and a covered picnic table. Most of the walk was just along firetrail shaded in some parts, like this shot at the beginning of the walk (photo was taken at the end of the day as the sun was setting) and lots out in the open, but relatively flat. Found lots of nectal filled grevillias that beat any boiled sweets or honey for flavour. Sticky sweet, and straight out of the flower.

This is the view we reached after about 1 hours walking. The landscape is much harsher than the ones I often see in photos of european blogs. Maybe not harsher, but different. It is quite dry but within it there are many microclimates, for example, we explored a little over the edge of the cliff line, in a gully where we could scramble down. Immediately you are in a temperate rainforest. This is something I love about my country and getting out into the bush. We walked to a point where a small trail went off the main one, and walked to a nice lookout to eat lunch and then return. It definately got my curiosity and I am planning to return there and do the entire walk, probably will be at least two days, but thats part of the fun.

That evening one of my colleagues was having a barbeque at her property and had invited staff and families to attend. There were two large bonfires, sparklers and lots of food. A great evening. One of my colleagues is the mother of a girl I went to school with and she was down visiting for the weekend while her husband was working down the coast so it was great to catch up with her as well.

The photo at the bottom is of Hayley's master marshmallow toasting skills. The hood is to protect her face and the marshmallow isn't toasted until the marshmallow and the stick are alight. My method is somewhat different, but it was entertaining.

Independance Days Challenge

Wow, I didn't realise I hadn't posted since last weekend. I have my camera at work today so I will try and download some photos and do another post. It's been a busy week or two.

Planted: Planted out seedlings of rocket I had started, and a herb, if I remember rightly it's thyme

Harvest something: Oranges

Preserve something: Nothing

Store Something: Trying to lower the amount stored to a manageable amount - nothing new this week

Manage Reserves: Trying to only use meat out of the freezer, to create space to store leftover meals. Slowly getting there as most of it's meat and I only eat meat every two or three days.

Prepped: Dug all the Agapanthus out. Now need to remove azaleas. Started breaking up the soil slightly where the lawn was removed and planting green manure. Have hurt my back so this is not happening as fast as I would like. Hoping to do some tomorrow morning...after I take my ibuprofen :) Found contact for layer pullets. Need to order, they will be ready to pick up in a couple of weeks, 12 week old pullets, will be ready to lay come spring.

Worked on Local Food Systems: Hmm, spotted local front garden with a huge lillipilli (native berry) tree. Feeling a harvest coming on.

Reduced Waste: Organised a compost system at work for my colleagues to use. Also given my mum a compost bin, and organised a hook for back neighbours to put a bucket with scraps on as well.

Cooked something new: Kangaroo roast. I have eaten this at friend's houses but first time I cooked it myself. I think I slightly undercooked it, but it was delicious.

Learned a new skill: Not sure if I did this. I taught a friend to Crochet though. That counts I'm sure. I had started teaching her before, but now she has bought her own hook and wool and we worked out for her to make a beret like hat. She's picking it up well.